Parksville is well-known for its large, sandy beaches. It’s long been a tourist destination catering mostly to people from across Vancouver Island as well as Greater Vancouver. Since 1982, the Vancouver Island city has leveraged its greatest assets into Parksville Beachfest, an annual event that is built around Canada’s only World Championship of Sand Sculpting official qualification event.
Parksville is 37 km northwest of Nanaimo, 48 km east of Port Alberni, and seven km kilometres southeast of Qualicum Beach. Tourism remains one of the largest sectors of the city’s economy, largely due to the summer season.
The Spanish were the first Europeans to explore the area. The British Royal Navy’s Captain George Vancouver followed shortly after. Prior to European settlement in the 1800s, several Coast Salish indigenous groups, including the Qualicum, Snaw-naw-as (Nanoose) and Snuneymuxw peoples, inhabited the area.
The extension of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo (E & N) Railway in 1901 spurred the city’s growth and the beginning of a tourism boom.
The Village of Parksville was incorporated in 1945, became a town in 1978, and achieved city status in 1981.
Parksville has a warm-summer mediterranean climate with July and August having less than 40mm of rain.
In August 2020, the Parksville-Qualicum Beach area’s benchmark price for single-family home was $604,900. This represents a slight increase from the previous year.
As of the 2016 Census, Parksville’s population was 12,514, representing a 4.5 percent increase over the 2011 Census.
Employment sectors in Parksville include tourism, construction, and business/financial/administration. There is also a fair amount of primary sector industry, mainly fishing and forestry, in the surrounding areas.
A regional campus of Vancouver Island University is located in Parksville.
In the summer, Parksville is one of the sunniest and warmest spots on Vancouver Island. Visitors enjoy its beaches and coastlines year-round for strolls, world-class birding, boating, and fishing.
Popular among families, Parksville Beach hosts the aforementioned Beachfest. There is also a water-park.
Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park is lined with towering Douglas Fir trees and connected to a campground and local trail system. The park is home to Rathtrevor Beach Nature House.
Theatre-lovers can get their fix at nearby Qualicum Beach, which offers Bard to Broadway and Echo Players. B2B isn’t all about Shakespeare, as past productions include Barefoot in the Park, Luv, and the Stephen Sondheim musical Company. Both companies work out of the Village Theatre.
Parksville’s Gallery of Artisans presents a revolving collection of arts and crafts by locals,
McMillan Arts Centre showcases works of 2D, 3D and performance art. The MAC also holds concerts, workshops, and rehearsals.
The Parksville Museum shares the history of Parksville and the nearby communities of Errington, Coombs, Hilliers, French Creek, and Nanoose Bay.
For a spa experience and culinary adventure, the Grotto Spa and Treetop Tapas Tigh-Na-Mara offers visitors the chance to relax in robe and sandals while enjoying 17 tapas plates that feature both local and international influences.
For tastings and cocktails, Bespoke Spirits House is a distillery in the heart of Parksville. Further up the road is Misguided Spirits Craft Distillery.
Almost as famous as Parksville’s beaches is the town’s Little Qualicum Cheeseworks. Besides producing a popular line of cheeses, it’s a local food hub with self-guided tours, a café, a petting farm, trails, and Canada's first “milk-on-tap” dispenser.
Restaurants in the area include the Bayside. True to its name, the restaurant/lounge offers ocean-view dining, inside and on its patio. The pub-style restaurant Black Goose Inn is located in the historic Samuel Maclure House. Another eatery, the British Bobby Restaurant, specializes in fish and chips. Also on offer are other traditional British dishes such as pasties and bangers.